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Rising COVID-19 cases are causing surgery cancellations at U of U hospital

ICU at U of U hospital
Posted at 7:22 AM, Jul 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-21 09:22:15-04

SALT LAKE CITY — In just two months, the number of Utahns hospitalized with COVID-19 doubled from 140 to 293, with 123 in intensive care units (ICU) up from 56 in mid-May, reports the Salt Lake Tribune.

Now, the University of Utah Hospital is canceling some elective surgeries because of these rising numbers.

“We’re canceling several today and plan to cancel more tomorrow,” said hospital spokeswoman Kathy Wilets. Not all the ICU patients are suffering from COVID-19, but the number of coronavirus patients is pushing the overall number of patients up.

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise in Utah and around the country as variants spread across the population, with new cases overwhelmingly among those who are unvaccinated.

As of midday on July 20, 42% of the U. of U. Hospital’s medical ICU patients were admitted with COVID-19.

“What makes this wave different is we simply don’t have staffing to open up new COVID units as we did last summer and fall,” Wilets said. “We continue to urge the community to get vaccinated if they haven’t done so yet, so that everyone can get the care they need.”

One way to see how effectively Utah is controlling COVID-19 is to look at the "test positivity" rate, which is the percentage of tests that come back positive for COVID-19; a rate of 3% to 5% indicates the virus is under control.

READ: Utah is changing how it measures the positive rate of COVID-19 cases

It has gone as high as 32.71% on Jan. 7, during the state’s post-holidays surge, but it recently has been dropping, hovering around 16%.

The percentage of tests for COVID-19 that come back positive is a leading indicator of the spread of COVID.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that this is a developing story and will be updated.